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Old 11-27-2011, 12:10 AM   #1
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Gas or LP Generator

We are looking at new fifth wheels and saw a generator prep for gas rather than LP which we found suprising. The salesman said that LP generators ran down the fuel very quickly, were unreliable and hard to get so the gas were better does anyone have any thoughts on this topic.

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Old 11-27-2011, 02:41 AM   #2
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LPG generators are historically problematic. Gas or diesel are your most reliable and dependable.

Your LPG system can have and will have bunches of oil that accumulate in certain areas which then clogs up the delivery lines and other critical parts.

Only my opinion.

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Old 11-27-2011, 06:02 AM   #3
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Hi BriarPatch,
DW & I are researching and developing our plan for FT in ~25 months (sounds better to us than 2 years) We also learned that the propane gensets go through the propane fast and wouldn't give much time between refills. We want to have the ability to dry-camp for up to two weeks if possible. Refilling propane seems more expensive and more difficult than dealing with gasoline or diesel. We spoke with the Onan guys at the Hershey RV Show this September, he said that RV manufacturers/dealers will install a gas/diesel tank on a 5th wheel trailer if "you push". The diesels look attractive in that a single fuel type is required for truck and genset, thereby using the truck tank as storage for both. The diesel engines would be expected to have a longer life over gasoline. But in the end we are looking at the gasoline because of the lesser weight and initial expenditure.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:01 AM   #4
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LPG cannot produce as much energy per gallon as gasoline or diesel, therefore will consume more LPG for the same amount of power produced as gasoline or diesel. LPG is cleaner burning.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:03 AM   #5
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I'd go with a gasoline unit in the trailer. A propane generator will burn through a 40# tank in relatively short order.

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Old 11-27-2011, 08:20 AM   #6
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I do have a propane generator. It does go through the propane fast. When boondocking I use a separate tank for the coach and run only the generator off the onboard 45 gallon tank. Using the gen. I use about 28-32 gallons every two weeks.
The biggest pain is breaking camp just to refill the propane. Using a fuel that you could tranfer yourself is a much better choice.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:35 AM   #7
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I also have a LP generator. We don't do much boondocking, so it mostly gets used going to and coming from our destination(s). It is plumbed into the 5'er LP system, which makes for easier refills. I sometimes carry an extra 30lb LP cylinder, so we're usually good to go.

The only problem we've had with it, was due to the installer not putting a screen on the regulator vent line. Mud daubbers built a nest in the line and ruined the regulator. Other than that, the generator has been flawless. Not only that, but we don't have to carry a third fuel type along with us.
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:28 PM   #8
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If you store your rig for periods of time regularly, go with LP. No worrying about fouling fuel. I have had no problems with my LP Onan. It will cost a bit more per hour to run than diesel or gas, but in my opinion, worth it for the fewer problems. One time in 6 years I had to drain the oil accumulator line - - no big deal - - better than fouled up fuel tanks that have clogged the carb and having the carb varnish up due to no usage. I run 2 - 40# tanks. If I went with something else, it would be diesel.

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Old 11-28-2011, 01:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by FiverBob View Post
If you store your rig for periods of time regularly, go with LP. No worrying about fouling fuel. I have had no problems with my LP Onan. It will cost a bit more per hour to run than diesel or gas, but in my opinion, worth it for the fewer problems. One time in 6 years I had to drain the oil accumulator line - - no big deal - - better than fouled up fuel tanks that have clogged the carb and having the carb varnish up due to no usage. I run 2 - 40# tanks. If I went with something else, it would be diesel.

I agree 100% with Bob
we had a 6500 watt onan in our last fiver, it performed flawlessly
it did have a appetite for lp when running both a/c's and all
if your tow vehicle is diesel, the rv is lp and the gennny is gas....thats three fuel sources you have to worry about.
keeping fresh fuel in the gas genny is going to be an issue. reformulated gas evaporates quite readily in the heat, you wont have vapor recovery like in a car or truck so you will loose gas up in vapors.

our lp genny started up fast, and did her job
you need ask yourself how often do you expect to normally use it?
in a dp or m/h its ALOT,
in a fiver its not nearly the same usage, so an lp may serve your purpose
I carried an extra 30 lb bottle just in case we had to use it for more than a day straight. I think if i remember right i could run just over 24 hrs on one 30 lb bottle if i ran one a/c only

if your expected use is low...lp is the answer maintenance wise. no gas gum ups . just routine upkeep
hope it helps
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:04 PM   #10
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There are two types of Propane Generators, Liquid propane, where liquid propane is sent to the carb. and vapor propane.. Usually the latter are smaller. Both are very reliable far as I can tell, For one thing you do not need to prime them, Propane keeps, like forever, it never fouls the fuel system like gasoline does. There is way less to go wrong with a Propane generator.. PROVIDED YOU FOLLOW THE RULES (Rules for ALL generators, like run 1/2 hour under 1/2 load every 1/2..er, every month), Check oil often)

They do, however, suck a lot of propane out of the tank, since a gallon of propane is what, about 3 quarts of gasoline.

However on the other end of the teeter toter (Balancing device) there are at least two things to consider.. Though many folks are worried about the dangers of hauling Propane, The fact is hauling liquid gasoline is every bit, if not more dangerous. Propane is hauled in a sealed, Valve regulated, container, if the pump jockey remembers to keep it below 80 percent the odds of a disaster are very very low. (And modern tanks are very hard to push over 80 percent full) Gasoline, however, is often stored in vented containers. and since it does evaporate at "room" temps. you can get a cloud of gas vapor, WHICH IS EVEN MORE EXPLOSIVE THAN PROPANE VAPOR. You get a gas spill and again, it takes time for it to evaporate and while it is evaporating you have a serious Danger.. With propane, this is also true, but the time is seconds not hours.

All in all... IF not for the fact I can haul up to 70 gallons of gasoline to power the main engine on my motor home.. I'd rather have Propane for the genset.

I should add however. I grew up with Propane appliances in the house, Propane water heater (House heated with either coal or oil but water with LP) cook with gas (Originally LP, later in life NG) and am comfortable around it.

I know many who grew up in an all electric house.. Not so comfortable.
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:38 PM   #11
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Have had propane, gas and diesel generators. For infrequent users propane will not go bad as will diesel or gas plus they burn much cleaner. Changed the oil on my 2500 watt propane gen as scheduled and it was still clean and transluscent. Only issue I've had with propane is in a very cold environment the valves can freeze from condensation. EZ fix was to put a towel over the tank valves in this type of environment. In order of preference I'd probably go diesel (for overall engine longevity), then propane then gas.

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